Urbanization has been historically widespread and one of the leading causes for habitat and species loss in coastal waters. Today 22,000 km2 of the European coastlines are covered by urban marine structures such as marinas, breakwaters, and seawalls, and development is expected to increase further. However, understanding and mitigating the effects of urban structures on marine life have not been a top priority in marine science and conservation. MarUrbe aims to encourage sustainable management of coastal urban structures by acquiring and disseminating knowledge on methods to promote desired species or prevent nuisance species in order to meet specific management goals, including 1) mitigating loss of species with high conservation value (e.g. Cystoseira spp.), 2) monitoring/controlling the spread of invasive/nuisance species, 3) enhancing fishery resources (e.g. mussels, crabs, and fish stocks) and 4) improving water quality. These goals will be achieved by: 1) exploring, through monitoring and experiments, the relationships between the characteristics of urban marine structures, species distribution and ecological functioning; 2) experimentally testing the effects of fine structural modifications to urban marine structures on the distribution of target species and 3) open communication with the public, local authorities and the scientific community. Expected deliverables include baseline information on the relationships between structure and ecological functioning of urban marine structures, protocols for enhancing or restricting the abundance of target species, and site-specific management guidelines. The links between MarUrbe and the inter-disciplinary international and national research initiatives in which the host laboratory is involved, will be one of the keys to the successful transfer of knowledge and establishment of collaboration, and will contribute greatly to my own scientific knowledge and career.
Fields of science
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